Originally posted on Pitt Blather  |  Last updated 6/24/13
Sorry everyone. It was my daughter’s birthday and part of her birthday wish was that I would take the weekend off from the computer. Well timed, little girl. Well timed. As if the recruiting stuff wasn’t enough, there is the start of the basketball summer league tonight. But what the hell, let’s start the week weird with the Rushel Shell story. Running back Rushel Shell has decided not to transfer to UCLA because he wants to remain close to his Pennsylvania home, according to a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to speak on the subject. Shell announced in April that he intended to come to UCLA. He had spent one season at Pittsburgh, where he gained 614 yards rushing. But Shell, who has twin daughters living in Pennsylvania, decided the distance was too great. He hopes to rejoin the Pittsburgh team. But does Pitt and Coach Paul Chryst want him back? Can they trust him? Could he play this season? The answer to the first and second questions appear to be unknown right now. He would have had to leave for Los Angeles this weekend for summer classes there, which begin today. Instead, he has decided to try to stay closer to home. At this point, the talks have been informal and it’s unclear whether Pitt’s coaching staff would allow Shell to return. Panthers coach Paul Chryst would have to weigh the pros and cons of welcoming back a player who, while supremely talented, left the team in spring practices. Those are big, big issues. Shell has been good at saying the right things. But following through on them. Actually putting in the work before playing the games. It has only become a bigger question. I don’t have a great answer to this. If we are talking about Chryst changing the culture at Pitt football. And Chryst has maintained that he wants players that want to be at Pitt, then it doesn’t seem possible to just let Shell come right back to the team. He quit the team. He felt that he didn’t trust the coaches, and now that trust is broken on both sides. How is there time to rebuild that trust? Going against that is the fact that Shell, despite being a father is still an immature kid. He made what could be considered a rash and emotional decision that he didn’t fully understand the ramifications of until the time of departure was staring him right in the face. At that point the gravity of the decision came down fully on him. It’s easy to say that he made his bed, now he has to lie in it. Go to UCLA. You can’t come back. But it isn’t just him. It’s his daughters. As a father, I can’t ignore Shell’s place in their life. And yes, there is the cold reality of the gridiron. It would appear that Shell would be able to come back to Pitt and play this very year if he and the coaching staff wanted it. Luckily one of the less commonly used transfer exceptions covers all three. Bylaw, the Return to Original Institution Without Participation or With Minimal Participation Exception says that a student-athlete can play immediately after a transfer if:   The student transfers to a second four-year collegiate institution, does not compete at the second institution and does not engage in other countable athletically related activities in the involved sport at the second institution beyond a 14-consecutive-day period and returns to the original institution. The 14-consecutive-day period begins with the date on which the student-athlete first engages in any countable athletically related activity (see Bylaw 17.02.1). A student may use this exception even if he or she has an unfulfilled residence requirement at the institution from which he or she is transferring. This exception is available to athletes in any sport. Unlike the one-time transfer exception, an athlete can use it no matter how many times they have transfer in the past. Shell hasn’t even started taking classes at UCLA, so under NCAA rules he could be right back at Pitt with no requirement by the NCAA to sit out a year. There would be an issue with getting UCLA to release him from the scholarship — otherwise Shell would have to pay his own way in 2013. As a coach, this has to be tempting. Not only from the talent he brings back to the position. But by the depth being restored there. As it stands, Pitt cannot redshirt James Conner. And to play him at running back, despite most projections suggesting how much better he would be on the defensive side of the ball. Potentially wasting a year of development of a player. It doesn’t feel like there are any good choices here.
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